Everything you want to know about sperm donation: who needs it, who the donors are, why they donate, the screening processes the donors go through, and how patients can order sperm samples discussed by Saghar Kasiri, Director of European Operations at Cryos International.
Saghar Kasiri, Director of European Operations at Cryos International started her presentation by introducing Cryos Sperm Bank, which is the largest sperm bank in the world with over 30 years of experience.
Who needs sperm donation? These are heterosexual couples that are struggling with male-factor infertility. There are also same-sex couples and single women, both from heterosexual or homosexual backgrounds. The highest number of patients who are looking for a sperm donor are single heterosexual women, it’s 43% of them. The next highest group is women in same-sex relationships, which is 35%, and then there are heterosexual couples mainly due to male factor infertility at 18%, and 4% are single homosexual women.
The sperm donors – who are they?
They’re usually men that are around the age of 18 to 45 within that age range, they are healthy, psychologically and physically, more than 50% of them are in a relationship, and almost 50% have either graduated or are in pursuit of their higher education, 50% of them are in a full-time job, and 50% of them also donate blood.
Most of them like to help others, and quite often they know someone in their family or friends that has had fertility issues, there is also some element of economic compensation, but the sperm donors only get paid for their time and effort as they need to take many trips into the sperm bank for screening, all the check-ups and then eventually for donation.
The screening process is very thorough, and only 5-10% of applicants are accepted and become donors. The applicants start with an online application, which is quite long, and some applicants can be excluded at this stage already. Afterwards, sperm quality is checked with all the parameters, but the sample is also checked after freezing or post-warming to see how well the sample survives this process. After they are qualified, they fill in a screening questionnaire, there are questions on the potential donor’s history of the family, lifestyle and so on. Then, there are other evaluation tests, for example, their emotional intelligence is checked, but also they go through genetic screening, and infectious diseases screening. When they go through all the stages, and the results show they can be qualified as a donor, they receive a medical examination to make sure everything is fine, and then they can finally be accepted as a donor.
It’s also important to remember what kind of donors are available. The main 2 classifications are Non ID – Release donors (anonymous) or ID – Release donors (non-anonymous). Anonymous donors’ identities will never be released to their future children besides their physical characteristics and also the important medical information about the screening, that’s usually the basic profile. The ID- Release donors mean that the future child will have the option to find out who the genetic donor was when they turn 18 years old. They will be able to contact Cryos and ask for that information, they will get the name of the donor, the date of birth and the address at the time of donation.
There is also an extended and basic profile available. In the extended profile, besides all the information about the screening, you can also get more information on the donor, for example, childhood photos, and you could hear an audio of the donor. The information you get about the expended profile is very much to get more information about the actual donor without identifying information.
Whether to choose an anonymous or non-anonymous is always a decision made by the parent or a couple, but also the location where they have the treatment done. Some countries only allow Non-ID-release donors, and some only ID-Release donors, there are also a few countries that give patients a choice to choose either of those categories.
Sperm donor selection
You can select the donors according to your preferences, you can choose by characteristics, and you can download all the information about the examinations and the screening of the donor.
The extended profile includes a childhood, Q&A from the donors where they answer some questions, but also a personal letter, you can also have some background history about their families. There you can also find the staff’s impression of the donor while he was going through the process, and there is an audio recording of the donor as well.
There is also a possibility to see adult photos, but those are available only if the donor is an ID-release donor. You will be able to see 5 or 6 donors’ photos that have been taken by professional photographers to provide you with as much information about the features of the donor as possible. There are also exclusive donors available, this means that you can choose a donor that has never been used for another family, and you exclusively purchase all the straws of that donor.
After you’ve chosen your donor, you can choose what type of straws you need straws: ICI or IUI. ICI straws are unwashed and unprepared for sperm, they can be used by clinics that can process it in their own IVF lab. These straws can be used for IUI, IVF, and ICSI. On the other hand, IUI straws are already washed and have been already prepared in the IVF lab, those can also be used for IUI, IVF, and ICSI. Therefore, it depends on how your clinic recommends it.
When you go on Cryo’s website, there is the step-by-step information on what you need to do to make an order. The delivery date is very dependent on where the sperm is being shipped, so sometimes it can take 1-2 working days in Europe, but it takes longer if it needs to be shipped worldwide. Give yourself around 4 weeks to select a particular donor, and bear in mind that some countries and clinics need to fill out all the necessary paperwork and will suggest when is the best time for shipping and when they are ready to receive the samples.
If you are thinking of having more than 1 child, you should consider reserving more straws for future siblings. Plus, if you order only 1 straw and the cycle fails, you would need to book more, and this particular donor might not be available anymore. Therefore, it is best to reserve more samples, and you will be able to also use them for a future sibling. The straws are stored at Cryos sperm bank until you need them.
Always be aware of the grey market out there. There is a growing alternative of independent contractors that are making an online grey market of free sperm donors. Keep in mind that this is not regulated, the sperm sample from such donors may be free or much less costly than the authorized licensed sperm banks, but these are underground sperm banks, and/or private donors, and this could mean that they didn’t have the screening, so there is a risk of sexually transmitted diseases, genetic diseases that could be transparent and there could be a possibility of legal complications. As there would be a lack of legal protection offered by a clinic, there is no guarantee such a donor would not be seeking contact or seek paternity rights.